There are two sides to every crisis – the horrible situation and all the details you can find…and the better side which too many ignore.
Israel got walloped by a huge winter storm – the likes of which we have never seen before. It was called the storm of the century – which, given that we’ve only past 13% of the century and have another 87 years to go…it kind of saying something.
It was bad – really bad, in many places. Four people died; many were injured and well over 100 slipped on the ice. Tens of thousands were without power for as many as five very cold nights and most of six days. Buses and trains were crippled and yes, as one rather insensitive person pointed out, newspaper delivery was canceled for at least three days for some people.
The other side of the crisis was a beautiful showing of what this country is really like. Let me give you a few examples:
The Commanders Course in the army was suspended, so that the soon-to-be commanders could go door to door in Jerusalem and check on the elderly and the people who were cold and without power.
Neighbors shared food and whatever was needed to get through the storm. In one village, there was a generator, but it wasn’t strong enough to give everyone heat and light and so they asked anyone without an infant in the house to turn everything to off so that those who really needed the heat, could protect the babies.
Buses couldn’t run in many places, so cars stopped regularly and went out of their way to take people where they needed to go.
A call went out Friday afternoon for all ambulance volunteers and medics and those with four wheel drive to help evacuate people – and so many went rushing in. Davidi went to volunteer on Thursday, on Friday, and on Sunday. At one point, the ambulance couldn’t even make it up a hill even with the chains they had tied on when they got to the army checkpoint and the entrance to Jerusalem. They had to turn back and a four-by-four was sent in.
And through it all, not ignoring the hardships but remembering there is another side to every crisis, Jerusalem showed its sense of humor in art – someone fashioned a headshot of a famous and much loved rabbi who recently died out of snow; someone built a snowman at the Western Wall, and keeping with the holiness of the place, put a kippah (yarmulka/skull cap) on its head. Someone built a small bathroom and toilet and sink out of snow; someone fashioned a small version of the Old City walls.
In Maale Adumim, we didn’t get snow – nothing worth mentioning and nothing that stuck to the ground, and so the city trucked in snow so the children could play; and on Friday morning when it became apparent that the delivery trucks couldn’t make it into Maale Adumim with challot for Shabbat, people went on Facebook and offered to share what they had, to bake for others.
I made four kilo of challah dough rather than my usual three and then gave the loaves to several friends to bake in their own homes. It was all about helping, all about making it easier for others.
There is always a crisis in our lives – but the important thing is to remember that for every crisis, there is usually another side.
At the best of times, Gaza is too busy dreaming up ways to attack Israel or build rocket launchers and fancy malls to both with maintaining any semblance of a sewer system and so when they got 60% of their yearly rainfall average in 2 days of massive rain, their solution was to scream out about a conspiracy.
They asked the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah for assistance – to send them fuel for heating…the response was that as soon as they paid their massive outstanding bill, Ramallah would send more. The United Nations didn’t have a problem with Ramallah, or they were wise enough to realize that Ramallah wasn’t going to budge and so they petitioned the Israelis to send in fuel urgently…and we did. The other side of the crisis – ignored again.
Oh, and we didn’t open any non-existent dams towards Gaza either…
But getting back to my point – there are those who complained that Israel didn’t declare a state of emergency – and I responded that “state of emergency” is an American term. Israelis do, and that’s what they did – they sent in the most talented search and rescue team in the world – our very own and they came with smiles and love (and a bunch of cameras to take pictures of the snow to show their families). They evacuated people, acted as ambulance drivers. They moved snow, removed cars. They cleared pathways and showed their dedication hour after hour until the tide had turned and Jerusalem felt like it was back in control.
And now, people see the mountains of snow slowly melting on the sides of the street and smile.